Article Comment 

Cold-medication bill passes Legislature, awaits Barbour's signature




JACKSON -- Mississippi is poised to become only the second state in the nation to require a doctor''s prescription for cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the illicit drug methamphetamine. 




The Senate on Tuesday sent to the governor a bill that supporters say is designed to curtail the state''s escalating meth activity. The House earlier passed the bill. Gov. Haley Barbour supports the legislation. 




The law would go into effect July 1. Oregon passed a similar law in 2006. 




Only four senators voted against the bill. They were Sens. John Horhn, D-Jackson; Walter Michel, R-Jackson; Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland; and Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville. 




Dozens of law enforcement officials, including Bureau of Narcotics Director Marshall Fisher, were in the Senate gallery listening to the debate. Many of them have said they''re "sick" of the toll the drug has taken across the state, where 981 arrests were made in 2009 and nearly 600 meth labs were seized. 




Pelahatchie Police Chief Glenda Shoemaker called the legislation "a blessing." Shoemaker said meth has become a problem in her town of 1,500, located in central Mississippi. She said four meth labs have been busted in recent years, a significant number for her town''s size. 




"These are people I know. People I love. I can''t do anything for them, and it just makes me want to cry," Shoemaker said, referring to local addicts. 




Drug manufacturers had lobbied lawmakers for a real-time tracking system instead of the prescription bill. They''ve said the prescription bill will likely lead to meth addicts and cooks crossing state lines to get the ingredients. 




Andy Fish, senior vice president of Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a group that represents over-the-counter drug manufacturers, said Mississippi had taken a step back in the fight against meth. 




"By turning down a sophisticated electronic tracking system in favor of prescription status, Mississippi will be allowing meth cooks to move from doctor to doctor and from clinic to clinic to amass large amounts of pseudoephedrine," Fish said. 




Senate Judiciary B Committee Chairman Gray Tollison, D-Oxford, said the legislation would require prescriptions for about 10 drugs: Advil Cold and Sinus, Aleve D, Bronkaid, Claritin D, Mucinex D, Nyquil D, Primatene, Sudafed, Tylenol Sinus Severe Cold and Zyrtec D. 




However, Tollison said there were still 24 other products available to treat cold symptoms that are manufactured with the drug phenylephrine. 




Not everyone is pleased about the bill. Letha Wiley, a 62-year-old from Sardis, said putting the restrictions on pseudoephedrine, a decongestant, won''t stop meth addicts. 




"That''s the dumbest thing I''ve ever heard. Everybody can''t afford to go to the doctor," Wiley said. "(Addicts) are going to do what they want to do. Lawmakers have got more important issues to deal with." 




Tollison said after Oregon passed its law, the number of meth labs decreased by 96 percent. 




Tollison said the drug is also costly to combat. 




Meth cooks have graduated from the typical labs to a new "shake and bake" method of manufacturing the drug. The pills are crushed, combined with some common household chemicals and then shaken in the soda bottle. The latest method can, however, still produce powerful explosions. 




Cleaning a contaminated meth site could cost the state as much as $7,000, Tollison said. 




There were several unsuccessful attempts to amend the bill, including proposals to limit to $5 and $10 the fee doctors could charge for a prescription and to create a task force to study the issue. 




Fish said the pseudoephedrine sales in Mississippi are only a fraction of the national market. 




"The issue at stake is not our profits here, but consumer access to a needed medicine and the opportunity for Mississippi to lead the nation in the next step of the meth lab fight," Fish said. 




Similar prescription legislation has been introduced in Georgia, Missouri and Washington, according to CHPA. 




The bill is House Bill 512.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Shawna commented at 2/2/2010 3:09:00 PM:

As with many other legislative efforts to stop criminals, the primary people that are affected are the law-abiding citizens that will suffer the ridiculous cost of getting a prescription for these products. The meth makers will simply go to another state to get what they want or doctor shop. The electronic tracking seems a much more logical option.


Article Comment j.d. mcdonald commented at 2/2/2010 3:22:00 PM:

logic and legislature are seldom in the same room. when people on a fixed income get colds and need medicine for those colds should they give up food or heat ? if people can't even afford insureance how can they afford to pay a doctor to get the medications they need?


Article Comment Tired.of.the.Laziness commented at 2/2/2010 5:00:00 PM:

There are 122(house) and 52(Senate) supposedly educated individuals in the state Legislature and this is all they can come up with. I understand there is a serious meth problem in this state but there are lots of other states where the problems are worse. I listen to a Supertalk live every day on my way to/from work, Monday was the first I had heard of this bill. Just wanted to know if there was any discussion on the electronic method before implementing such drastic measures? This solution basically requires individuals to pay a $100 plus per doctors visit to get cold medication. The excuse used was that you previously had to have a prescription to get the medication they are talking about, well it has been over the counter longer(20+ years) than the previous prescription requirement. I can't believe they don't see how they will be hurting more individuals than they will help. Meth heads will just move on like the common roach and continue their habit but every day law abiding citizens are here to stay. How many people, who can't pay for it, will visit the emergency room just to get a prescription overfilling them even more? Mississippi is a poor state so who is going to pick up the tab for the doctor or emergency room visits for those who can't afford them, probably THE TAXPAYERS!
Since this a mainly liberal state is this a ploy to push our nation even closer to Obama care? The state is cash strapped - are they trying to generate more taxes?

Another action hidden from the people until the last moment so it can be recklessly push through the legislature.

Everyone should ask what the real ulterior motive is!

Somehow I don't think the Senators and Representatives really care how they got elected or who elected them....Might want to show them in the next election.


Article Comment ok commented at 2/3/2010 11:36:00 AM:

Tired.of.the.Laziness - I love how you are pulling "Obamacare" into this. If everyone in the country were insured, as that plan is going for, going to the doctor and getting a prescription would not be anywhere near $100 dollars. I am insured and right now if I needed to get a prescription for a cold medicine, I could pay my $25 co-pay and then whatever it costs for the medicine. Plus, you are totally missing the fact that there are still plenty of other cold medicines that will be available over the counter. Cold medicine will still be available and those people who can't afford to go to the doctor can still buy it at Walgreens or Walmart or wherever.

And MS as a "mainly liberal" state? Seriously? You've got to be kidding me. MS is about as right-wing as you can get. Haley Barbour is the poster child of the Republican party. Come on.

Meth is a DANGEROUS drug in both use and creation. It is also highly addictive and spreading like wildfire. Every step possible needs to be taken to keep people from making it here. This move is not to punish those who live here, but to keep us safe. I think it would be GREAT if this legislation would push addicts and manufacturers out and keep them out.


Article Comment sotired commented at 2/3/2010 1:49:00 PM:

Why not push them in to jail with lengthier jail sentences? Get the addicts help, yes, if they want it, but why hasn't the issue of more jail time been addressed for the manufacturers?


Article Comment Michelle commented at 2/3/2010 2:04:00 PM:

I understand that it will cost the people that actually use/need these medicines alot extra however this is a VERY SERIOUS problem and sometimes extreme measures need to be taken. No one thing is going to stop all the meth use in this state and in this county however I believe this will help greatly. I did some digging and found a study that was done by OSU and if you are serious about this issue and not just some talking head giving your opinion please check out the article. This law has helped to cut the meth labs in Oregon. The cliff notes of the article are listed below for those of you who won't take the time to read the entire article.

Sudakin's study found that meth labs in Oregon have decreased since Oregon became the first state in the country in 2005 to pass a law to require a prescription to obtain cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, which is used to make meth. The law took effect in July 2006.

"There has been substantial progress in reducing the number of methamphetamine laboratories across the state, but there are still significant problems with the abuse of the drug in Oregon," said Sudakin, who teaches environmental and molecular toxicology.


Article Comment Perhaps commented at 2/3/2010 4:05:00 PM:

While it would be inconvenient to have to get a prescription, does anyone think it likely that doctors may call you in a prescription if you ask for it over the phone? Without requiring a visit that costs $$$? I mean, these are currently over-the-counter, so why would you require a visit to get a prescription?


Article Comment ch commented at 2/3/2010 7:22:00 PM:

my doctor does not call in prescriptions. he requires an office visit for all prescriptions and refill requests. so now, i have to take off work, pay for a doctors visit, and i'm assuming since now this is gonna be a prescription, i'm gonna have to pay a regular co-pay for my new prescription sudafed or whatever sinus medicine it is...

I agree with some of the others. This isn't going to stop the drug addicts, it's only going to inconvenience the law abiding citizens


Article Comment ok commented at 2/4/2010 8:58:00 AM:

Well..if it is an inconvenience for you to get a prescription, don't try to buy the cold medicine that requires one! Just buy the stuff that will still be available over the counter! That's what I don't get about this argument. If all cold medicine required a prescription... I could see the problem. However...there are still 20-odd cold medicines that will be at the drug store and available to any and everyone.


Article Comment Beta Vita commented at 2/4/2010 9:44:00 AM:

This is a windfall for primary care providers and will in no way stop the production of Crystal Meth. Pseudophedrine is very easily made and safer to make than Crystal Meth.

controlling the supply of Lithium is the answer to this problem. But, then the local Giant retailer wouldn't like that as they now sell thousands of batteries compared to hundreds.


Article Comment TC commented at 2/4/2010 11:20:00 AM:

Here's another option: If you have a cold go get yourself a fifth of whiskey. It's over the counter from 10AM to 10PM. After drinking about half of it you'll have cussed all the politicians and doctors about this ordeal, therefore feeling immediate relief. Then go to bed with the other half, wrap up in a quilt and sweat the remaining fever out.

If symptoms persist...BUUURRP..., repeat.

Possible side effects of whiskey include: Unusual behavior, blurred or double vision, slurred speach, headaches, black eyes/fat lips and divorces.


Article Comment JG commented at 2/4/2010 2:43:00 PM:

Now that is funny TC -


Article Comment Tired.of.the.Laziness commented at 2/4/2010 4:21:00 PM:

ok. The other cold medication remaining on the shelves doesn't work as well or not at all for the most annoying symptons. And as for the "if everyone in the country were insured.....getting a prescription would not be anywhere near $100 dollars.....I could pay my $25 co-pay " comment are you forgetting the high preimums and I'm almost sure copays will be way more than $25. As we sit here and write these comments the insurance companies are trying to raise them even higher. Drink some more Koolaid.

Great one TC!


Article Comment TC commented at 2/6/2010 2:12:00 AM:

I joked about the whiskey thing, but seriously, making cold medications only available by prescription is kinda crazy. What's next? Are we all gonna have to eventually show IDs and fill out a bunch of forms to buy camera batteries or a can of ether to crank our tractor?

It makes no sense to make life miserable and expensive for EVERYONE in Mississippi over a handful of dope cookers.

It's sad but true, but Law Enforcement often focus more on misdemeanor crimes (easy to win in court and less dangerous) than getting rid of the meth labs. There are known crack dealers in this town but that's normal, just don't let your inspection sticker expire! Small town politics I reckon...


Article Comment D commented at 2/8/2010 11:39:00 AM:

You need a doctors script for adderall and loritabs, has this stopped the drug trafficking of these on the streets?


Article Comment Edderds commented at 2/8/2010 11:49:00 PM:

"D", you have a good point. Drug traffing is a serious problem in MS. I know a young "dope whore" that goes from doctor to doctor complaining of various "serious" pains and getting pain pills, thanks to Medicaid, only to trade for crack or meth, not to mention the stealing and prostitution that helps support her addiction.

Local Law Enforcement know her well and know every move she makes is a felony, but nothing is ever done about it. It makes you wonder...


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